Kick-to-kick sets path for All-Australian future

AN All-Australian jumper is a far cry from kicking the ball in the backyard with her father more than a decade ago, but for Madison Newman, the passion for Australian Rules football has never wavered. The rebounding defender was awarded a spot on the interchange bench for her successful national carnival where she averaged 15.3 disposals and 4.0 rebounds – the equal second most rebounds across the week. But her journey to All-Australian started like many others.

“Ever since I was young and I could pick up a footy I was always kicking it with dad out the back of the house because he didn’t have any boys; I was the only girl who wanted to play footy or do any sort of balls sports,” Newman said. “I started footy through Auskick and went into primary school and played Year 2/3 and 4/5s with the boys and then I couldn’t play anymore. “I quit for a few years and did cricket, I did that for about four years in the state team. “When I was about 16, I went into West Adelaide and then started SANFL from there, and it’s sort of just taken off.”

Her experience in the SANFL Women’s competition gave her the boost she needed, becoming an integral part of the West Adelaide line-up, averaging 18.7 disposals, 2.6 marks, 2.1 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s and 5.9 rebounds. She was named Breakthrough Player of the Round in the opening round of the 2019 season and continued that form throughout, named in the back pocket of the 2019 SANFL Women’s Team of the Year. Newman credited the support from senior players at West Adelaide for her development over this year.

“It’s been really good to get feedback from them (AFLW listed players) after the games,” Newman said. “Sarah Perkins was one that stuck with me at the start of the year, shook my hand and said ‘you’ve just got to keep working at it’ and ‘you’ve got a bright future’ so that was really cool to hear from her.”

Her biggest inspiration on her football journey stems back to the one-on-one coaching from the moment she could kick a ball all those years ago.

“My dad (is my biggest inspiration),” Newman said. “He’s taught pretty much everything I know. “He taught me how to kick and catch.”

While her successful carnival and All-Australian jumper was enough to earn her a AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite, Newman said she was trying not too focus too much on what could be the biggest moment of her football journey later in the year. Newman admitted this year’s lead-up to the championships had extra emphasis than the year before.

“Last year wasn’t as stressful as it wasn’t my draft year,” she said. “I’ve just tried to work really hard in the months leading up to this competition and trying to get my body right as best as I can to perform well.”

As for on the field, Newman said she hoped to improve her contested ball-winning ability as well as tackling pressure to give herself a more all-round game with a goal of working more into the midfield in the coming year. In terms of her strengths, Newman backs herself with her run and carry, with a long kick to boot. While the championships are done and dusted, now Newman looks ahead to the AFL Women’s Draft Combine as one of four South Australians nominated. If she does end up landing on an AFL Women’s list, she will not be forgetting all those kicks in the backyard that kick-started her journey.

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